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We Are Invited
Tuesday of the Thirty-First Week in Ordinary Time
‘One of those at table with Jesus said to him, “Blessed is the one who will dine in the kingdom of God.” He replied to him, “A man gave a great dinner to which he invited many. When the time for the dinner came, he dispatched his servant to say to those invited, ‘Come, everything is now ready.’ But one by one, they all began to excuse themselves. The first said to him, ‘I have purchased a field and must go to examine it; I ask you, consider me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have purchased five yoke of oxen and am on my way to evaluate them; I ask you, consider me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have just married a woman, and therefore I cannot come.’ The servant went and reported this to his master. Then the master of the house in a rage commanded his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in here the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ The servant reported, ‘Sir, your orders have been carried out and still there is room.’ The master then ordered the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedgerows and make people come in that my home may be filled. For, I tell you, none of those men who were invited will taste my dinner.’”
Opening Prayer: Dear Lord, I thank you for the gift of faith. Please help me to deepen my faith so that I may discover you in all things. Let this time of prayer make me ever more attentive to your voice and to your will in my life. May I grow in awareness of your goodness towards me so that my confidence in you may also grow.
- A Man Gave a Great Dinner: “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). We cannot begin to appreciate truly the incredible gift God is offering us with heaven. It is an invitation to communion with the Blessed Trinity. We will contemplate the face of God in union with all the angels and saints. This will be the ultimate fulfillment of all our “deepest human longings” (see Catechism #1023-1024). Scripture struggles to find words to describe sufficiently the joy associated with heaven: “a great dinner,” “a wedding feast,” “a feast.” Such worldly joys, good though they are, are but a shadow of the joy awaiting us in heaven. As Catholics, we should cultivate our longing for heaven by frequently meditating on our vocation to be with God eternally.
- He Invited Many: The man giving the banquet does the inviting. You may not simply “crash” such a party; you must be invited. Alone and through our own effort, we may neither enter into nor merit heaven. It is a gratuitous gift (see Catechism #1727). God sought us out before we were aware of heaven, or even when we resisted: “But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God’s invitation may take various forms, such as the sacraments, Scripture, the example of holy people, a conversation, an answered prayer, and even a crisis. God is constantly renewing his invitation to each person in the very depths of our hearts. Even when rebuffed, God continues to search for souls who will accept his gift.
- They Began to Excuse Themselves: Sadly, we often find ourselves too busy to bother with God’s invitation to communion with him: “But one by one, they all began to excuse themselves.” They had good things to do, but good things can often get in the way of the best options. We might be too busy with work, projects, or even family to find time for God. Our Lord calls these “excuses,” because there should be no real conflict between our duties and God. Lived well, all our responsibilities should lead us to God, not away from him. The key is to put God above all things. We are called to put him first in setting aside some time daily for prayer, to put God first in living out our responsibilities to work, family, and community. We put God first when we remember to rely upon his grace in our lives. By doing so, we live in communion with God in this life and, with his grace, we will live with him for all eternity.
Conversing with Christ: Dear Lord Jesus, I thank you for the countless times you have invited me to an ever-growing communion with you: when you created me, called me into your Church, and invited me to live my particular vocation in life. You continue to ask me to walk with you in the smallest of details in my life—in work, in chores, in prayer, in encountering others, and in rest. Help me to live all my experiences as an offering with Christ for the salvation of souls and the glory of God the Father in the Holy Spirit.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I plan to pause briefly once or twice to make a small prayer of self-offering to you.
For Further Reflection: We can contemplate how we give to and receive from God in the offertory during Mass: https://aleteia.org/2018/02/28/why-the-offertory-is-not-mass-intermission-pope-francis-explains/.
Written by Fr. John Bullock, LC.